If you are building an online presence to sell your goods or services and you are ready to begin accepting credit cards, all of the options, terms and programs available may be confusing. Two common components of an e-commerce payment processing platform are a payment gateway and a shopping cart — but what’s the difference?
What’s a Payment Gateway?
A payment gateway securely authorizes payments for e-commerce websites. Think of it as an online point-of-sale terminal for your business. The most common use of a gateway is an ecommerce store on the internet. BluePay’s gateway can also be used in a brick-and-mortar retail environment with a swipe reader. It can be used with various POS systems, too, and can process PIN debit transactions.
The functions of a payment gateway and a shopping cart are very different. A shopping cart is a virtual equivalent to the grocery cart you wheel through the local big-box store. You put your goods into the cart and drive it to the cash register that then tallies your order and gives you a total amount due. This is exactly what an online shopping cart does. It totals the costs of your goods, adds in applicable sales tax and delivery fees, subtracts discounts via coupon codes and the like, and then displays a total amount due.
An alternative to a shopping cart is a hosted payment form. This approach is ideal for businesses where each transaction typically has just one item. A secure hosted payment is designed to match the look and feel of your e-commerce website, yet is hosted on BluePay’s secure servers to reduce liability.
So Why Are Payment Gateways and Shopping Carts Often Confused?
It’s easy to understand how a business owner could be confused by all this terminology. Many components of e-commerce and credit card processing work together. In some cases, they’re integrated as part of an all-in-one solution. It doesn’t help that some websites and companies use these terms interchangeably.
So which do you need? Is a payment gateway a necessity for your business? Does your e-commerce site need a shopping cart? What about other components like a merchant account? Where should you begin?!
Take a deep breath. We’re here to help.
BluePay’s experienced industry professionals work with hundreds of business owners to help them understand their payment processing options. We’ll work with you to understand your business and design a solution that fits your needs – without unnecessary bells and whistles. Contact us today and we’ll help you get started!